Radical left parties and European integration
The legacy of history
in The European Left Party
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This chapter traces the history of radical left party (RLP) policies and orientation towards European integration, taking further issue with the usefulness of the concept of ‘Euroscepticism’ as a way of encapsulating the rich variety of views and strategies that emerge from our survey. We consider how a wide range of factors has influenced RLPs’ attitudes towards European integration. We aim to show how parties that saw the nation-state as an embodiment of revolutionary and socially egalitarian values (as in the French Jacobin tradition) are likely to differ markedly from parties whose experience of nationalism is bitter and whose historical patrimony makes any recourse to ‘defence of the nation-state’ problematic at best – such as the German, Italian and Spanish parties. We analyse the legacy of RLPs’ co-operation inside the European Parliament from their first appearance there in the 1960s until the post-1989 break-up of the Italian Communist Party, the launch of the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) in the European Parliament in 1994 and, eventually, the birth of the EL in 2004.


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